A few months ago, my sister Andrea and I launched our second quarantine project: Project A.R.A.L., which stands for “A Reader, aLifeline.” We feel passionately about sharing our blessings and helping other children as much as we can. We raised funds for Alpabasa, an organization that provides an eight-step reading program to teach children how to read. Their vision is to empower every Filipino child to read.
As Marian Wright Edelman, an American activist for children’s rights, once said, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”
Last summer, our Project L.A.P.T.O.P. raised funds to equip public school teachers from Bicol, Metro Manila, Pasig, La Huerta and Navotas with 26 laptops, but this year we are focusing on helping underprivileged children to become better readers. We wanted to continue these quarantine projects because we know that they have a huge impact not only in the present lives of students and teachers, but also in their futures. Without the ability to read, nobody would be able to learn and succeed. The children’s success in school will ensure better lives and better livelihoods for them. It will allow them to go beyond the poverty level.
Project A.R.A.L. (aral means “to study” in Filipino) is our little way of raising awareness and helping these children. Our initial target was to build a strong foundation for the reading readiness of 500 children from four different elementary schools: Camp Crame Elementary School, Air Force City Elementary School, Payatas C Elementary School and Southville 1 Elementary School. However, due to the overwhelming support that we have received, we increased our target amount of children. We didn’t increase it to a specific number; we just wanted to help as many students as we could.
My sister and I were able to raise P573,965, which is enough to cover Alpabasa Home Kits of letter cards and reading materials and subscriptions to online videos in English and Filipino for 524 students and three teachers. We wanted to visit the schools and personally hand them the check, but unfortunately, we are still not allowed to meet because of health protocols. Perhaps one day, we can see all the students and teachers we have helped face to face. But for now, I am delighted with this small initiative, and I am sure they are, too.
We raised funds by writing letters to our friends and relatives who also do not get tired of donating to our causes to improve education in public schools.
I understand that it has become more challenging for children to focus in online classes. I never realized how many students are unable to read, and this project allowed numerous students to gain the ability to do so. I am more than thrilled that these 500 students whom I don’t even know can read now. This was such an extraordinary and worthwhile experience that I will truly remember forever. It made my summer very meaningful. I look forward to more projects like these.
I believe that it is incredibly important that we share our blessings, because not everything that we have should be kept to ourselves. Borrowing the words of bookseller George Whitman, we should give what we can, and take what we need.
The author, 14, is a Year 10 student at the British School Manila. She likes helping students and teachers to make learning enjoyable.